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SmorgasBorg: Will Chicago make same mistake twice?

27 June 7:30 pm

SmorgasBorg: Will Chicago make same mistake twice?

By Simon Borg

Some MLS clubs spend years searching long, far and wide in the hope they finally find one. And even then, it's no sure thing.

Just scan the league. How many foreign No. 10 playmakers are out there? How many are panning out? 

And yet here we are with a few days remaining until Sebastián Grazzini's contract option is up with the Chicago Fire and the club still hasn't taken a definitive stance on whether they're bringing him back.

Little do the Fire know that they actually hit the jackpot. They have on their hands a left-footed, creative genius, in many ways reminiscent of D.C. United legend Marco Etcheverry, capable of great passes and great goals who has proven a great fit in MLS and with the Fire since the very first day.

If we're going to be picky, Grazzini's problem is that he landed in MLS a year or two late. His age (31) and his lack of name recognition hurt his cause. In fact, if Grazzini disappeared from the league, it's possible few would even take notice. He's only featured in 25 total MLS matches with little national exposure.

But even with all that, Grazzini is a keeper.

We don't know the details of his fitness levels and we don't understand what personality quirks there might exist with the Argentine. But no one can dispute his productivity. Seven goals and nine assists in 25 matches (across two seasons) would make for an All-Star season for most players. His five assists in 2012 are already better than Brad Davis and equal to maestro David Beckham.

What makes the Grazzini situation bizarre is that Chicago's playing style actually depends on having a real No. 10, who can maneuver down the middle of the field. Dominic Oduro needs Grazzini's service. Patrick Nyarko benefits from his vision.

The Fire were never the same after Cuauhtémoc Blanco left and it will be deja-vu all over again if they don't bring Grazzini back.